Photo by David Paschke on Unsplash

Originally published in Spanish: “Positivado”. Rafa Latorre. El Mundo.

19th June 2018

El Roto has drawn a very reasonable cartoon and this has gotten him into trouble. It shows a couple wearing a traditional Catalan hat or barretina and holding a huge yellow ribbon. One of them is saying, “It’s a lasso, to hunt down those not wearing one”. Outrage. “Criminalization!”, yells the secessionist digital bunker. “A load of barf”, say some with such teflon-coated stomachs that even Clara Ponsatí’s castor oil hasn’t made them the slightest bit queasy.

As God always comes to the aid of good atheists, so to the aid of the cartoonist came a piece of news in La Vanguardia saying that the Catalan National Assembly was drawing up a list of patriotic businesses. This comes under the guise of “consumer responsibility towards the republic”. The shiny euphemism is a way to explain boycotts to a three-year-old, framing them in positive terms. One need not study Escohotado’s three-volume Los enemigos del comercio (Enemies of Commerce) to know that there’s no greater stupidity than boycotting those who buy more from you than they sell you. But Catalan nationalism has long abandoned any vestige of its much-trumpeted pragmatism.

The ANC’s patriotic list may result from stupidity or martyrdom, and it’s indeed likely that the two are not just compatible but actually inseparable. There may even be a third factor: malice, for it’s likely that in a strategy of ‘the worse, the better’, the leaders of the ANC enjoy the second half of the premise while leaving the first to the rest of the Catalan people.

The yellow ribbon is a reversal print of stigma, a patriotic mark that identifies those neglecting to wear it. Just like the relevance of a list of patriotic businesses lies in who isn’t included, with the ribbon the truly committed are those not wearing it.

Joaquim Torra was on the Catalan TV3 station the other day for an “institutional interview”, a sub-genre to add to the long list of inventions, prodigies and freaks of nature created by Catalonia’s patriotic journalism, with its special spot reserved for syndicated editorials. In short, it was the opposite of what Inés Arrimadas encountered when she visited the now governmental, and previously public, TV station. That day, the winner of the elections was asked why she and her party had failed to sing the Catalan anthem Els Segadors with everybody else in the regional Parliament. That’s a reversal print. A loud yell meant to make you hear the silence. The ribbon’s color is loud. Its presence is very visible, and so is its absence. El Roto–always hitting the nail on the head.